April 17, 2008

Exit Evaluations: PGs

In the coming days we'll break down the entire returning Arizona State basketball roster in terms of their individual performances last season. Here is a look at the team's two point guards.

Derek Glasser -- As a freshman, Glasser improved more from the beginning of the season to the end of the season than any player in the program. He went from being a player who had a very difficult time just bringing the ball across half court in the face of pressure defense to a guy who could actually create his own shot off the dribble in the half court offense. That progress continued in Glasser's sophomore year, though understandably not at the same rate.

What Glasser does best is play within himself. You'll occasionally see shots off the dribble outside the rhythm of the game, but it's infrequent and usually in a break situation. In the half-court offense he's incredibly poised and patient. Glasser doesn't break down defenders and get to the basket and/or create open looks for his teammates off this type of penetration, but he's good passer and understands the game about as well as anyone on the roster. He doesn't take shots that lead to fast break opportunities going the other way for the opponent.

As an athlete, he's a low to mid-tier Pac-10 player, but he overachieves because of his intelligence and work ethic. Even when ASU coaches started Jamelle McMillan ahead of him early in the season, Glasser kept a terrific attitude and it didn't have any outward impact on his readiness or commitment to improving. Glasser has admitted himself, he doesn't take a lot of risky chances with the basketball, which makes his assist-turnover ratio better than it might otherwise be. Regardless, he improved in that category from 1.64 as a freshman to 2.27, which was third in the Pac-10.

Glasser isn't a very good spot up shooter, but he improved a bit in this area, especially in the second half of the season when he appeared to be more committal to the shot off the catch. He made 28-of-89 (.315) 3-point attempts on the season, which though not as good as the team's other primary long range shooters, is certainly respectable.

The areas where Glasser will continue to have to work to improve are with his long range shooting and with his ability to initiate the offense in the half-court. As a ball-handler, he's gotten considerably better since arriving in Tempe, but he has to take that to an even higher level. Too often last season, against the most athletic defensive Pac-10 teams, ASU struggled to get the offense initiated because of a lack of athleticism and/or ball skills a the point of attack. We'd also like to see Glasser be more settled on his mid-range pull up jumper. He gets great elevation, but has a tendency to float forward during the shot as opposed to hitting the jump stop and going straight up. But that's a minor issue.

Jamelle McMillan --After being the consistent starter early in the season at point guard, McMillan settled into what was primarily a backup role as the year wore on. Considering this was perhaps the most talented Pac-10 ever, it's easy to understand why McMillan's lack of experience had an impact on his ability to be consistent with his production.

But the main thing we felt with McMillan is that he's younger in terms of his natural growth and developing cycle than some of the other freshmen that joined the program. When he arrived with the program in August, he looked very young in the face and was quite thin. The physical change during the year was more pronounced with McMillan than any of his teammates in our opinion. He probably grew an inch or close to it and added at least 15 pounds. That development is going to continue, obviously, and he'll benefit from the off-season spent in the strength and conditioning program.

The areas where McMillan most impressed us are with his defense, especially on the basketball, and with his ability to push the ball in transition and see the floor well in the open court. McMillan is one player who actually might be better in a man-to-man defense, but his intelligence and excellent work ethic make him quite capable in the zone. He shades players well and understands angles and how to sit in passing lanes. Off missed baskets he is very opportunistic with pushing the ball in break and mid-tempo opportunities. He fits the ball into tight places with lengthy passes on the run.

As a shooter, McMillan is more accurate than one might think by watching his form. He generally puts up a set shot, which means he needs more time and space between he and his defender to get it off than his teammates. But he's pretty consistent with it, making 15-of-42 (.357) from long range on the year. What is interesting to us is that McMillan also has displayed, on rare occasions a true long range jumper. He generally employed this shot in late shot clock situations where he had a defender closer and a set shot would have likely be blocked. The reason it's interesting, is that McMillan had a lot of success with that shot as well, and our guess is that as time goes by, and he gains more confidence, we'll see more of the jumper and less of the set shot.

McMillan, like Glasser, isn't a great athlete and he isn't prone to creating a lot of opportunities at the basket off the dribble. He does have a teardrop type runner, but we just didn't see it much. He'll need to get stronger and become more able to break defenders down off the dribble and create opportunities for others in the half court offense. Also like Glasser, McMillan at times had difficulty against athletic defenders in terms of getting the Sun Devils quickly into their half court offense. The goal with this is to not have to start the offense further out onto the floor, or have to initiate the offense through James Harden.

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